Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.”
- Acts 8:9-10
Look at Simon: he boasted about himself and the people agreed with him. How often do people live up to their own hype?
Simon had a successful sorcery practice in the big city of Samaria. We don’t know the details of his business but we know that it was popular, profitable, and powerful. The book of Acts doesn’t present Simon as an illusionist playing tricks, but as a powerful sorcerer drawing on dark and demonic forces to manipulate reality.
The power at work in Philip (who we looked at yesterday) is on a collision course with the power at work in Simon. And, spoiler alert, the power at work in Simon is exposed as a minor imitation of the real power of God. Listen, the power of God is not the only power at work in the world.
We live in contested space. Our God and King is mighty and powerful and his ultimate victory is sure, but he is fiercely opposed by dark, dangerous, and evil forces: the devil and demons, powers and principalities, corrupt leaders and unjust judges. Every inch of ground gained by the kingdom of God has to be taken from one of these other little imposter kingdoms.
It does us no good to bury our head in the sands. Don’t be surprised when everyone doesn’t agree with you about Jesus, when everyone doesn’t support your pursuit of a life of faith, or when everyone doesn’t join your attempts to advance God’s good and beautiful kingdom.
Contested space. There are alternatives to Jesus. Some people have pursued them. And some people have enjoyed benefits from those pursuits: the attention and acclaim of crowds, material comforts, and power. But don’t be discouraged.
Only people who had never heard the good news about Jesus would proclaim that Simon was “the Great Power of God.” Jesus died and came back from the dead … for us and for our salvation. There is no miracle greater than this, no power greater than this, and no hope greater than this.
Take a moment today to express your confidence in Jesus and his kingdom, even in the face of many alternatives. Sing it, pray it, write it out. Pause and connect with the reality of Jesus before moving out into the contested space.